Telford’s Protolabs launches £20,000 fund to boost sustainable product design with new Hackathon Challenge

Aug 4, 2021

A £20,000 manufacturing support prize is on offer for designers and companies keen to take part in ‘The Hackathon Challenge’.

Due to be launched on Thursday, the Protolabs-backed competition is one of the main events of the ‘InspirON’ series of best practice talks and virtual seminars currently underway.
It will give participants the opportunity to take what they have learned from global experts including Dr Simon Lockrey (leading sustainability and LCA expert), Dr Vannessa Goodship (author and plastics expert) and Chris Grantham (Circular Economy Director at IDEO) and use it to create a hand tool with life-cycle analysis (LCA) and sustainability in mind.
Entries, which can be made until 31st June, will be assessed by a panel of experts on their manufacturability (how the parts can be realistically manufactured) and their LCA credentials. Judges from Protolabs, Wevolver, IET and a number of speakers will also look at the potential market impact of the new hand tool and whether it responds to a current need and how sustainability improvements will be achieved.
Bjoern Klaas, Vice President and Managing Director of Protolabs, Europe, commented: “The Hackathon Challenge is another way of making innovation and product development a reality, with winners being able to secure up to £20,000 in digital manufacturing services to bring their ideas to life. “InspirON is delivering so much knowledge and expertise to hundreds of designers across Europe that we wanted to make sure it could be absorbed in a practical way that could also deliver new sustainable solutions to everyday issues.” He continued: “It will be really interesting to see how the different talks have impacted on participants and which areas of learning have resonated with how they see product design and development going forward. “If, as a society, we are going to hit our carbon reduction targets then designers have a massive role to play in creating more sustainable solutions to overcoming everyday problems. “All participants of the Hackathon Challenge will have access to the Protolabs design analysis and manufacturability software and our manufacturing capabilities in prototyping and low volume production will be available to the winner or winners.”
Running alongside the competition will be the ‘Sustainable Innovator Challenge’ and this will ask participants to demonstrate what they have learned from the InspirON sustainability series over the longer term. Individuals will be asked what they can demonstrate as being a more sustainable product as a result of watching the talks, how they have reduced their carbon footprint, achieved end-of-life improvements or made a greater impact on the market as a result of storytelling methodologies.
Perhaps they took Dane Whitehurst’s packaging inspiration and reduced their carbon footprint by 15%, perhaps they listened to Simon Lockrey’s LCA methodology and quantifiably improved user cycles, or perhaps they took Tom Watt-Smith’s approach to the mass markets and created a measurably improved impact there. Bjoern concluded: “The advantage of submitting for the ‘Sustainable Innovator Challenge’ is the potential to gain recognition for the work you do towards creating a more sustainable product, or a more sustainable process in your operations. “It provides a fantastic opportunity to further help market your product, as well as providing a platform to enhance your reputation within the design community.”
Source: Shropshire Live.